Here we are with seven days to go until the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games and the saboteurs are at work! There is a threat of a strike from some civil servants workers. I am not quite sure which branch, but something to do with immigration which will certainly disrupt the flow of people in and out of the country. The second problem seems to be over security. The company, who won this £57 million contract, heaven knows how many years ago, have suddenly announced that they are 3500 personnel short. So it now looks as though we are going to have to rely on supplementing the security staff by our police and armed services. What a shambles, it must be Lord Coe’s greatest nightmare as, in these troubled times, security has to be very much near the top of the priority list. Finally, we have the farmers who are striking over the cost of a pint of milk, which, as they point out, is cheaper than mineral water. In this case, in common with millions of others, we are sympathetic. It is only due to the greed of the supermarket chains, selling milk as a loss leader, that these farmers are forced to take action in an attempt to save our dairy business.
I had another of my nausea bouts around 6.30. When it came in my supper, which was very light, the quantity of which was scarcely sufficient to satisfy the local stray cat, I just couldn’t face it. I ate two small spoons of some delicious prawn concoction and then called it a day. The problem is I’m scarcely eating enough to stay alive. This is one of a number of issues we will take up with Doctor Margaret Saunders, from the Arthur Rank Hospice, in Cambridge, when she comes to speak to us next Monday
Continuing the commentary on the 1948 Olympics, today I quote from the third of The Times special supplement at the time, now reproduced. These supplements very largely comprise, contemporary photographs which prove the old saying’ a picture is worth 1000 words’. However, this time the comments on these photographs, from which I freely quote, are written by Matthew Syed. He says:
‘ Modern sport is predicated upon the concept of marginal gains, the idea that a competitor attempts to squeeze a small but measurable advantage in everything from psychology to diet and from accommodation to transport. The premise is that if you control every variable, however trivial, the cumulative effect maybe decisive.
The photographs reveal not merely a different sporting age, but the different sporting philosophy. We see athletes mingling with fans, and handing out autographs. We see a sportsman in his lodgings swatting up on university work will. We see one athlete having a blister attended to by a bespectacled Doctor. It evokes a gentler and altogether more temperate sporting ethos.
There was no Olympic village…. So athletes stay in RAF camps. They also put up in schools and… Colleges.
Sports science is not absent from the 1948 games. Masseurs…. work on the quads of athletes and there is also what looks like a cooling machine. But the intrusion of technology is nothing like in the modern Olympics…. where Psychologists, physiologists and data specialists will be roaming alongside the athletes in Stratford this month.
….. Professionalism transformed the moral basis of sport…. Winning was, of course a cherished objective, but it was not the be all and end all. Competitors might cite a gold medal at the top of their ambitions. But with value the joys of meeting other competitors and learning about their cultures. These cultural differences were particularly visible when it came to clothing…. a consequence of the contractual obligations laid down by sponsors… It is noticeable by its absence. Many athletes wear tracksuits to chill out, but many others are decked out in national dress.
The athletes village was first introduced into the Olympics… in 1932. In the London Games athletes stay in multiple locations, each requiring its own transport to the venues. Many travel to events by Tube. No modern Games will be complete without a purpose-built village. It is an integral part of the Games, not only for reasons of security and logistics but as the location for the world’s biggest party. Once the rigours of competition are out of the way, and months of monastic abstinence can be put to one side, sports people have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cut loose. When there are 10,000 young, virile athletes with the same mindset… the cocktail is explosive. More than 150,000 condoms will be handed out at the village in London but one imagines that even this would be insufficient to cater for demand…. Fraternising was doubtless part of the Games of 1948 too, although rather more hidden. But it is probably fair to say that, both in terms of sport and sex, the modern Games has taken performance to new, and sometimes breathtaking, extremes.’
Today we were blessed with a beautiful sunny, but mild, summers day, so welcome after the drab chilly excuses we have had for summer weather so far this year. I did not manage to get out into the garden today, but as Miles and Kimberly come down to lunch tomorrow, I hope that the weather is good enough for us all lunch in the garden.
For a little light relief, click here to see what some consider to be the worst age.